On the subject of the Community's own resources, no change is expected between now and 2002 to help remedy the budgetary imbalances. The future own resources system is due to be replaced in two stages, according to the Presidency proposal. The VAT-based resource is to be replaced by an extended GNP-based one. The proposal the Commission is due to table on the financial reform is also expected to speak of increasing the amounts paid to Member States for the cost of collecting the conventional own resources. The level of increase has yet to be specified.The United Kingdom's rebate is to be retained, but the computing method will be adjusted to take account of the change to the own resources system and the planned cut in farm spending. Enlargement-related spending will entirely or partly excluded from the procedure for calculating the British budget rebate. The pattern of distribution between the Member States to offset the UK rebate will be altered so as to relieve the burden for the biggest net contributors without putting the cohesion countries at a disadvantage. A safety net is to be provided as soon as a country's net balance exceeds a certain percentage of its GNP. The Presidency's proposal also refers to the co-financing plan and the Spanish idea of initiating a programme of assistance for countries taking in large numbers of temporary refugees.On the agricultural front, the Presidency sees no grounds for tampering with the technical deal sewn up at the Farm Council. In contrast, the package confirms the willingness to stick with an annual level of farm spending of roughly Euro 40.5 billion over the 2000-2006 period, boosted with a Euro 12 billion allocation for rural development. As the compromise would prove to be more...

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